US, Israeli officials to hold second round of talks on Iran

Top national security officials from the US and Israel will convene virtually on Tuesday for strategic talks on Iran.

Elad Benari ,

Iranian missile display in Tehran
Iranian missile display in Tehran
Reuters

Top national security officials from the US and Israel will convene virtually on Tuesday for a second round of strategic talks on Iran, Barak Ravid of Axios reported on Monday, citing three Israeli officials.

The talks come two days after an explosion at the Natanz nuclear facility in Iran that experts consider a likely act of Israeli sabotage, and one day before the US resumes indirect nuclear talks in Vienna over a return to the 2015 nuclear deal.

The strategic dialogue will be led by National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and his Israeli counterpart Meir Ben Shabbat, with officials from various national security and intelligence agencies participating. It will be held via a secure video link, according to Axios.

The first round of talks last month focused on intelligence surrounding Iran's nuclear program.

This round is expected to focus on Iran's regional activities in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen, the Israeli officials said.

The Vienna talks are also expected to be discussed, as well as recent attacks on Iranian and Israeli ships in the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf.

President Joe Biden has expressed a desire to return to the 2015 nuclear deal. Iran has gradually scaled back its compliance with the agreement in response to former US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement in May of 2018.

Biden has stressed that Iran must resume compliance with the deal before any negotiations on a US return to the agreement.

The first round of talks in Vienna last week concluded without any immediate signs of progress.

State Department spokesman Ned Price played down expectations for talks on how Washington and Tehran might resume compliance with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

While echoing descriptions of the talks being held in Vienna as “constructive,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters “we would also, however, hasten to not allow expectations to outpace where we are.”

Early last week, Price said the US is ready to review key sanctions on Iran if it comes into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal.

Several days later, he took things a step further and indicated the US is prepared to remove sanctions on Iran to resume compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, including those that are inconsistent with the pact.



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